Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gearing Up for Your First Triathlon

With the next Triathlon 101 class starting soon, I get a lot of questions about the gear people will need. Here is a list of the basics

1) Swim suit and goggles

Nothing fancy, just something you are comfortable wearing. Stage II in Lincoln Center has various suits and a large selection of goggles that you can try on first.

Note: The majority of the group is made up of middle-aged adults. It is not a bikini contest, nobody is looking or checking each other out! Eyes to the ground, all we want to do is get in the water without embarrassing ourselves ;-)

2) Wetsuit

This is an optional piece of equipment and depends on how well you handle cold water. The super sprint race is in October in the American River. Chilly? Yes, but you are only swimming 200y. If you feel you need a wetsuit, here are a few options.

  • Fleet Feet Stockton rents triathlon wetsuits. Just go in and ask, they will fit you for the correct size. I believe the rental rate is about $50. Note: They only have full sleeve wetsuits.
  • Buy a used one. I bought my first wetsuit on eBay for $70. I figured that if I ended up hating triathlons I could sell the wetsuit and not be out any money. If you are thinking about getting a used wetsuit, order it sooner rather than later. It will give you time to shop around and you will have it for the open water swim practices.
  • Borrow one. 
Sample of what you will find on ebay

Note: There is a difference between a wetsuit that you might use for surfing and one that is meant for triathlons/swimming. The surfing wetsuit acts like a sponge that holds the water close to your skin. This is meant to keep you warm, but it is heavy and slow! A triathlon wetsuit has a coating to help repel the water which helps you move through the water faster. 

Also, men's wetsuits are cut slightly different than women's but there is no reason a lady can't wear one...unless of course you aren't planning on wearing anything underneath (the arm holes are lower/larger) and stuff might show ;-)

3) Bike & Bike Helmet

The graduation race for the fall Triathlon 101 class is a super sprint, which means it is super short (5 mile bike leg). It also means it is possible to do this race on a beach cruiser.

A mountain bike or hybrid will work just fine

Really cool & fast - not necessary for the graduation race
Don't forget your helmet. Not only will you not be allowed to race without one but Coach James will not let you ride with the group!

4) Shoes

It is important to have a good pair of running shoes because you will be doing plenty of running during your training. If you are unsure what type of shoes to get, go to Fleet Feet. They will fit you and make sure you have the correct shoes.

Optional Stuff

a) Tri Kit / Suit

This is a special triathlon outfit and is not necessary for a super sprint. A kit is two pieces and a suit is one piece.  For my first super sprint, I wore a bathing suit bottom and a sports bra under my wetsuit. When I came into transition (T1), I slipped on some running shorts and a tank top. No special shorts, no special shirt. If you think you might want some tri specific clothes, REI usually has a selection on clearance.

Super cute tri kit from

b) Race belt

At a triathlon, you will have your number marked all over your body, but that doesn't preclude you from also having to wear your race number during the run. If you are planning on throwing on a shirt after the swim, you can attach your number to the shirt ahead of time. The other option is to purchase a race belt. After the bike, you simply clip the belt around your waist and take off running. In Stockton, you can find these belts at Fleet Feet and REI.

c) Bungee Laces

Ok, I'm calling these "optional" but after you try a pair you will never want to waste time with regular laces again. Bungee laces allow you slip your shoes on in transition. This can be a big time saver.  Once again, they are available at Fleet Feet...there is a tub of them up by the register.

d) Garmin or other GPS Watch

Techno geeks like me will say this is a necessity.  However, you really don't need one to do your first triathlon. If you decide to keep going, knowing how far and how fast you are going is very useful information.